The Fine Art of Meditation

From Gurudeva’s Merging with Siva
Lesson 254
Meditation is A Fine Art

Meditation is a fine art and should be approached in the
same way the fine arts are approached. That’s the way
we teach meditation at Himalayan Academy, as a fine art.
The artist-teachers are not running after the students.
You don’t learn a fine art that way. You go to your teacher
because you want to learn. You might go a long distance. You want to
learn, and so you study. He gives you something to work on. You go away
and you work on it, and you come back having perfected it. That’s how
we expect Academy students to progress along the path. Something has
to happen on the inside, and it usually does. ¶Controlling the breath is
the same as controlling awareness. They go hand in hand. During meditation,
the breath, the heartbeat, metabolism—it all slows down, just like
in sleep. You know, deep meditation and deep sleep are extremely similar.
Therefore, the practice of prâ∫â yâma and regulation of the breath, the
prâ∫as, the currents of the body, should really be mastered first. In the
very same way, the dancer doesn’t just start out dancing. He starts out
exercising first. He may exercise strenuously for a year before he begins
to really dance. The pianist doesn’t sit down at the piano and start with a
concert. He starts with the scales and with the chords. He starts by limbering
his fingers, by perfecting his rhythm and posture.

Meditation has to be taught like one of the fine arts. It’s only the finely
refined person who can really learn to meditate. Not everyone who wants to meditate can
learn to meditate. Not everyone who wants to learn to dance or to play
the piano can learn how to really, really do it. We need this preparation
of the physical body so that the physical and emotional bodies behave
themselves while you are in a deep state of meditation. ¶Your breath will
slow down until you almost seem to stop breathing. Sometimes you do,
and you’re breathing with an inner breath. You have to educate yourself
to that so it doesn’t make you fearful and bring you out of meditation
with a jerk and a gasp, which can then inhibit you. You can get fearful in
meditation. So, good basics must be learned for one to become a deep
meditator. You can spend hours or years working with the breath. Find
a good teacher first, one who keeps it simple and gentle. You don’t need
to strain. Start simply by slowing the breath down. Breathe by moving
the diaphragm instead of the chest. This is how children breathe, you
know. So, be a child. If you learn to control the breath, you can be master
of your awareness. ¶The sense of bhakti yoga, a sense of devotion, is
extremely important on the path. Unless we have a great bhakti, a great
devotion, we can easily be shaken from the spiritual path. It’s the fuel
that keeps us motivated. If we prepare our room before meditation by
lighting an oil lamp or candle, a stick of incense, or only setting out a few
fresh flowers, it puts us in a state of readiness; and for any serious thing
that we do, we must prepare. If you’re going to cook a fine meal for a special
guest, you take a bath first. You prepare yourself; you get ready. You
get mentally, emotionally and physically ready. Meditation is the same
thing. Physical preparations have their effect on the mind and emotions,
too, turning awareness within and creating a mood and environment
where there are fewer distractions. If you would prepare for meditation
as exactly and precisely as you prepare yourself in the external world to
go to work every day, your meditations would be much improved.

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